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The Case of the Ancient Arm Eater

posted 12/21/2010 6:15:20 PM |
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My Mom has a washing machine. "No big deal", you might say. Nothing unusual, almost everyone's Mom has a washing machine. Right? Well.. My Mom has THE washing machine. I don't think it's the very first one invented, but I'm darned sure it's the third one. I think it was created by the Spanish Inquisition. Had to have been them. No one suspects.... This machine is a torture device non parallel.

It consists of a large metal tub on legs, an 'arm' with an old fashioned clothes wringer on it and a horrible appetite for little arms. The wringer is two wooden dowels that press tightly together and squish almost every drop of water out of the wet item.

This one had an agitator. I't would mangle the crud right out of anything you put in it. Nothing today gets clothes as clean. I don't know if it's the gallons of boiling hot water or the fact that this thing beats the bejeebus out of fabric, but clean it did.

Every Spring and Summer, the Arm Eater came out. One load at a time, everything went in it. Sheets, Underwear, Socks, Pants and everything else. Mom would fill the tub up with hot, and I'm not kidding, water and turn her on to churn, merrily beating those duds into submission. You've never felt a soft fluffy towel til you've had one washed in the Arm Eater. It couldn't help but be fluffy. It was beaten to a pulp!

I'd often get roped into helping Mom with the laundry, I guess by dint of being the oldest and also the girl of the family. Hooray for women's lib... so NOT. I hated doing the laundry in that thing. I hated it with a passion that is unrivaled to this day. Nothing could strike fear and loathing into my heart like the words, "Sam, come help me do the laundry.".

Now, keep in mind that I didn't make 5' til I was 18 years old. This machine was well over 4 feet at the tub.

I'd get the big old stick and stir the clothes around every so often making sure all the soap dissolved and that everything was underwater at all times. That part, even though it meant standing on an apple box, I didn't mind so much. But then..

The dreaded wringing of the clothes. *insert screaming child running for the hills* *I wish* Each piece had to be fished out of the tub and put through the wringer to be gathered in yet another tub on a stool. You couldn't just feed a whole bunch of things either. One at a time. Not such a big deal, right?

Wrong. Every time I got near that wringer, at least once per load I ended up with my hand and arm going through the darned thing. That bloomin HURTS. It pushes all the blood back up your arm to bunch up at your elbow. It mashes all your tendons and makes your bones feel like King Kong is standing on you.

I'd scream bloody murder. I yelled so hard that the washer shook. (pretty good feat when you're 4'6".) Mom would race out of the house from whatever else it was that she was doing. Personally, I think she was inside taking a nap and stuff waiting for the scream. She'd race over, unplug the washer, take the wringer apart and pull my arm out. I'd sob and sob. She'd call me a dumbass and we'd start all over again. Not one time in the washer for each load, but THREE. Three I tell you! Once to wash and twice to rinse.

Come to think of it, it's no wonder my hands ache so much all the time now. I wonder if the maker of that torture device still exists? I might have to start up a class action law suit.. if anyone besides me is still alive that's ever been beaten up by a simple clothes washer.

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Dec 21 @ 6:39PM  
Yes my grandmother had one of these beasts...
I didn't have to help as often as you did, but enough to
the hate the thing. She washed twice a week, Wednesdays
and Saturdays. We always visited on Saturday which meant
I was on laundry detail while all the other kids in the neighborhood
were outside playing. I longed to play, but I knew better than to ask
after the first time... the punishment was worse than being eaten
by the beast!

Dec 21 @ 7:18PM  
My Mom used to have one of those evil damn things. I only got my hand caught in the wringer once...and it hurt like hell!!! I literally hated that thing. I will agree with you on how clean clothes got in those's washer's are wimps compared to that...but...I'll take those over that evil machine any day.

Dec 21 @ 8:03PM  

I had my arm caught in one of them, all the way up to the elbow before they got it
turned off and my arm released. lol

Dec 21 @ 8:48PM  
We had those....
Men had NP with them... then!!!

All joking aside ..Hell, I thought they were Fun!!!!!!!!
Ours had Rubber squeezers......

Dec 21 @ 8:53PM  
Thankfully never had to deal with one of those. The worst we had was the old fridge and chest freezer next to each other. If you accidently touched them both at the same time it was a very shocking experience

Dec 21 @ 8:58PM  
That wringer would swing from washer to first rinse tub then to the second rinse tub (with bluing...don't forget the bluing balls in an old sock to dip over and over again until the water was just the right shade of blue) anyway...that wringer swung to the last rinse and the clothes would drop into a basket to be hung on the line.

One day I stood at the end of that wringer lifting clothes to feed into it with my left hand and (for whatever reason ) pulling or guiding them through with my right hand. Now..........

When the item going through was thick, the wringer was designed to pull apart or give with that thickness and without realizing it, my belly was resting against the end of the wringer and when the item came through to drop in the basket, the wringer snapped back closed and pinched the hell outta my belly... Frikkin' OW!!!

But that old Maytag had a red bar across the top of the wringer for instant release of the clamped together rollers. Hit that bar and the rollers popped apart...and trust me, I didn't know I could move so fast but not fast enough to escape one hellava bruised belly....

But I have seen those old monsters whose rollers were adjusted together with a twist clamp on top...and no release... How awful...I just can't imagine using one of those.

Dec 21 @ 10:03PM  
Ancient devices of torture! We had one when I was a kid and we have one now that the neighbors moved off and left on the property that my family bought. Dad brought it to my house just knowing that it was wanted and needed. It's in great condition, and I would ever want to use it! lol But he thought it might be good if I wanted to dye something or for washing my throw rugs and such.......yeah......ok! lol So basically it's taking up valuable space in the shed and I can't even find anyone to come take it for free just to haul it off for scrap metal! lol

Dec 22 @ 2:14AM  
Brings back memories of standing on a chair and feeding the laundry monster. I too had my arm eaten by the mangler and screaming blue murder my mother reversed it crushing it more instead of hitting the release.

Dec 22 @ 2:15AM  
My mom had the old metal washing board and tin tub. Tin tub doubled as the family tub where they'd go off and haul water in a bucket fresh from the pump and then heat it up.


I'll never complain about my shower being crappy again.

Dec 22 @ 4:40AM  
I have had these kinds of machines in my life twice I LOVED them.... I was a kid but they made laundry so much fun maybe it was the way my Mom loved having a washer I do not know but hey she grew up with no electric, running water or indoor plumbing.. so this could have had a lot to do with it.. LOL Lady I would love to have that washer of yours sure wish you lived closer... and yes I have been caught in the rollers a few times once it took my shirt and tore it off me too LOL lucky it was before boobies...

Dec 22 @ 4:41AM  
My grandmother had one of those and when it was in use, we were not allowed to go anywhere near it.

Dec 22 @ 11:49PM  
my momma had one of those

did yours always seem to squash buttons and zips going through the mangle rollers if you had them wound too tight .

* wanders off whistling; guess who's mum's got a whirlpool......

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The Case of the Ancient Arm Eater